Happy New Year! I love the feeling of freshness and opportunity that comes with every new year. This is a great time to re-examine your relationship with God and how you are doing as a disciple. It’s also a great time to set new spiritual growth goals or adopt new disciplines. I want to share with you a few things I am doing and hope in inspires you to challenge yourself this new year.
Here’s what I am doing to get off to a great start:
1) Adopting a new Bible reading program for the year.
This year I am using the “Book-at-a-Time Bible Reading Plan” by Discipleship Journal Magazine. I am shifting to this plan because I have followed my own for the past two years and just want to mix it up a bit. I like plans that are book by book approaches. If you are wanting to read scripture daily then check out the bible reading plans on The Practical Disciple Resource page or enter into my Bible In A Year program.
I just got a text yesterday that said, “Thank You. I’ve tried and been unsuccessful multiple times, but this a.m. with your encouragement thru your blog, I completed reading the Bible in a year. Looking forward to delving deeper this year. Thanks again.” That could be you one year from now if you adopt a plan today. To follow the plan he did and receive regularly email helps CLICK HERE.
Exercise: If you don’t have a habit of daily reading God’s Word select a plan and start today. If you already read daily, find a study that can help you delve more deeply into understanding and application.
2) Revaluating priorities, purpose, and goals.
I actually do this every 90 days using a planning system called “The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner.” This is not explicitly a Christian resource, but I know the author, Allyson Lewis and she is a godly woman whose productivity resources have been instrumental in helping me get my life in order. The result being that I can give God the time and attention God deserves.
Her daily planner has some great exercises in the front to help you completely reevaluate where you are in life and create a plan for how you are going to get there. It’s available in The 7 Minute Life store for about $15. It’s worth every penny and then some as a life organization tool. She also has a ton of free tools in her Member Tools Area to help you prioritize, organize and simplify your life. I highly encourage you to check these out.
As I disciple people I find the biggest problem isn’t people knowing what they should do, (i.e. study the bible, have a daily devotional time, use their spiritual gifts, etc.), it’s more a basic need for time management skills so they have the time to do what they know they should. Allyson’s tools have really helped me do that.
Exercise: Using Allyson’s tools or something similar, get clear on your priorities and set some spiritual growth goals for at least the next 90 days.
3) Cleaning the slate.
I find that when my life is cluttered both literally and metaphorically it is very hard for me to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Scattered attention leads to scattered faithfulness.
Therefore, one of the things I am doing right now is ruthlessly eliminating distraction. For example, my computer desktop was littered with icons, so I filed all of those items and created a clean desktop that says in great big yellow letters on a purple background, “Week 1- Plan for the Best Year Ever.” I have only three icons on the desktop. I am also physically purging clutter from my office over this upcoming weekend.
Similarly, I am cleaning up my internal clutter. I am physically writing down all of the irritants and unresolved issues in my life on a piece of paper and will systematically address them or consciously let go of them.
Exercise: Take a few minutes and write down all of the things tumbling about in your mind that are tugging at your attention and draining your energy.
4. Committing to a faith focus for the year.
My faith focus for the year is to understand and live into what it means to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, love my neighbor as myself.
This past year I made some huge strides in what I call body holiness, that is to say, improving my health so that I can love God more with my strength of my body. Specifically, I created a morning routine, (I am not a morning person) that includes walking for 30 minutes and a nutritious breakfast, and I am regularly getting sufficient sleep. I am blown away at how much better I am functioning as a person in general, let alone in my faith walk because of these changes. I can give God so much more of me and I am much less prone to sin.
I am hoping that if I can get just as intentional about learning and growing in the other areas that there will be a synergy to my efforts that will dramatically improve my devotion to God. So, I am on a full out quest to study, learn and grow in what it means to unreservedly love God with all of me and love my neighbor as myself.
Exercise: Reflect on how you would like to improve as a disciple then choose a faith focus. How would you have to focus your time and energy to grow as a disciple this year? Deeper prayer? A greater understanding of the Bible? Serving others? Growing in the fruits of the Spirit?